President and CEO, West Valley National Bank
Even before West Valley National Bank opened its doors on Dec. 23, 2006, a decision was made to join the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. Becoming an active member of GPEC made good business sense.
“What I like about GPEC is its economic development focus,” says Candace Wiest, president and CEO of the community bank. “It goes to the heart of what community banks do. I’m a firm believer in the saying that a rising tide lifts all ships.”
One of the first benefits Wiest saw for her bank was how GPEC helped attract the Cancer Treatment Centers of America to the West Valley. The nation’s fourth Cancer Treatment Centers of America, located in Goodyear, opened on Dec. 29, 2008, bringing with it quality care for cancer patients and 200 high-paying jobs. But there’s more.
“It certainly helped with some of the housing issues in the West Valley, created a lot of options in terms of health care, and gave the area national recognition,” Wiest says. “I couldn’t bank the hospital itself, maybe, but I certainly can be the banker for a lot of the people out there.”
GPEC efforts benefit the Greater Phoenix’s economy on a macro level, Wiest says, as well as on a micro level helping its individual members.
She enjoys serving on GPEC Next, which is an advisory group through which some of the newer ideas flow before being submitted to GPEC’s board of directors. She applauds GPEC’s role in supporting solar energy, which produces a benefit for her bank.
“I certainly cannot finance any big solar companies,” Wiest says, “but we have launched a program to finance construction for businesses that want to convert to solar.”
The solid relationship between West Valley National Bank and GPEC is ongoing. Wiest is on the board of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, maintaining a link between the cancer facility and GPEC; and she is a trustee of New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce University, named after the 14th U.S. president. The university already holds some classes in Goodyear and is considering an expansion, Wiest says, adding that GPEC is playing a role in that project.
Wiest says GPEC has done wonders to enhance the Valley’s image. While serving a pair of three-year terms as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, she heard numerous negative comments about the Phoenix area.
“GPEC has helped to debunk some of those myths,” Wiest says.